Tribal Trappings – Asian Ethnic Art, Artifacts, Textiles and Folk Art Tribal Trappings – Thoughts about Thailand, Chiang Mai, things tribal including textiles, ethnographica and folk art <data:blog.pageTitle/>

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tools as Art

We have recently added a page of extraordinary, old weaving tools from Cambodia: beautiful brushes for applying starch to silk threads or for cleaning them when weaving, plus a nice collection of loom pulleys, many of which are in pairs. The loom pulleys are charmingly carved by young men for young women in whom they have a romantic interest, with the imagination and skill of the carving suggesting their competency as a husband. The bird shown here should have wowed any woman, young or old! These utilitarian objects are wonderful examples of folk art and convey strong cultural beliefs and values.

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Sunday, September 14, 2008


Our thoughts are with all our friends in the Houston area as they recover from hurricane Ike. We've been there, done that, and it's no fun. Hope you're all well and that things get back to normal very soon.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

I'm Baaack!

After a long and productive trip to the US, I'm back in the Land o' Smiles and attempting to catch up. I owe many friends, acquaintances, and family 'krup khun khas' for all the good meals, guide and chauffeur services, and generous assistance. It wouldn't have been much fun without y'all! Robert thanks you too!

While in DC I visited a favorite museum, the Sackler Asian and African (now the National Museum of African Art) galleries, which are part of the Smithsonian, and was surprised to find a show of the work of El Anatsui. Born in Ghana, but living and teaching in Nigeria since 1975, he recycles a variety of materials into compelling artworks which address his heritage, consumerism, and society's ills, among other things. I was originally introduced to his work at the Harn Museum at the University of Florida, where one of his 'cloths' hangs on permanent display (my photo below).

Made of wired-together metal strips from the necks and tops of liquor bottles that were to be recycled, it is huge, richly textured, and sensuous - all belying the fact that it is made of rigid, unwanted materials. The rich metallic color brings to mind Ghana's famous goldsmith traditions, and its composition of strips gives a nod to the strip-woven cloth of Ghana, called 'kente' (which his brothers and father made as Ewe weavers) . This is even more apparent in a work in a show catalog that I picked up:

Even with these acknowledgements of his origins and that inherent meaning, El Anatsui's work very eloquently speaks a universal language of beauty, creative and meaningful use of materials, and form. More information on this show, the artist and the work is available here. For a fine example of an Ewe kente cloth please see ours here.

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